By Rory Reynolds
ROUND the world cyclist Mark Beaumont has revealed that his next challenge could be following Olympic champ Chris Hoy’s tyre tracks towards landing a gold medal.
The 27-year-old – who holds the world record for the fastest bike ride across the globe – says he hasn’t ruled out an Olympic future, admitting it was his “childhood dream”.
Already a cycling legend Chris Hoy won three gold medals at Beijing, making him the most successful Olympic Scot ever in a single games.
Now his fellow Scot hopes to emulate his exploits.
When asked if he would like to join a future Olympic team, Mark said: “I’d love to. It’s a childhood dream to compete in something competitive like that.
“As I’ve grown in experience I quite enjoy the idea of first and fastest as oppose to repeating the same event, so I think I’ve been drawn more to the adventure world – but you never know.
Beaumont arrived at Edinburgh Airport yesterday to hug his mum and sisters after completing an epic 268-day bike journey from the tip North America to the bottom of South America
Sporting a dark tan after months of solid cycling in baking heat he was greeted by his waiting sisters Hannah, 25, and Heather, 38 and mum Una, 56 – who handled the logistics side of his mammoth adventure.
Along the way Mark conquered Mount McKinley, standing 6,100 metres in Alaska and the 7,000 metre Aconcagua in Argentina.
Mark said that he was thrilled to be back with his family and admitted that months of endless solo cycling had taken their toll at times.
And he even said that he would gladly swap the searing summer heat for freezing Scotland once again.
He said: “If feels incredible to be back. I finished on the other end of the world, and didn’t know a single soul for thousands of miles, so to get back to Edinburgh and get back to Scotland and see friends and family – that was really the big finish for me.
“It was in May last year I left, and the actual expedition was 268 days solo just pushing it all the time except for on the mountains when I was joined by a small team.
“So its a long time to be living on your own world, so to get back to reality, to freezing Scotland after having nine months of summer on my expedition is wonderful.
“The big challenge for me was this whole journey was split between the English speaking world and the Spanish speaking world, and before I entered Mexico I couldn’t speak any Spanish.
“I couldn’t stop for a chinwag and a chit chat if I felt down and lonely, which I could have done in America and Canada.
“It’s hard to describe that solo experience. There’s weeks I would go without properly conversing with anyone, but I was filming a BBC1 series as I went.
“So quite often when I was in that lonely space it was the camera I was chatting to.”
And Mark also admitted he’d had more than a few close shaves during the adventure, which saw him ride through deserts, mountains and jungles.
He said: “The mountains were the biggest challenge for me. High altitude mountaineering, there’s real dangers there, and to summit both of those mountains you really are beating the odds.
“On the bike, there was lots of wild camping. Bears in Canada through parts of Mexico and Central America some concerns with local issues, quite a lot of situations happening.
“I was constantly reading the papers in the areas I was passing through and realising how close danger was, but I was incredibly lucky, didn’t even fall off my bike.
“There were plenty of officials asking for little bribes to get you through but nothing more criminal than that.
“I think probably the natural element was the thing that really tested me. 600 miles through the Acacama Desert was the driest place on earth, just completely wow, having to stock up and survive that.
“The last two thousand miles through Patagonia in Gale Force winds up to 100km per hour, I couldn’t even ride my bike in that.
“It’s been an amazing couple of years and I’m going to take the spring off to tour the UK.
“I’ve got a 38 date talk tour, which will be fun taking my films and photography to the length and breadth of the country, and then I might think about writing another book.”
Throughout the nine month journey his proud mum Una was behind him all the way, handling any route or visa problems from the UK.
She said: “We’ve been working together since he did the journey from Dundee to Oban when he was 12, so we have quite a good understanding.
“If anything crops up, we take it one step at a time and get through it.”
“He looks fantastic – it’s lovely to have him home.”